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Christine
Leas

Principal

Christine
Leas

Principal

Christine graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of Law in 1991, and is admitted to practice in New York, California and Connecticut. She specializes in environmental regulatory compliance and transactional matters, counseling clients on complex brownfield and contaminated site redevelopments and environmental aspects of mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. She has over ten years of experience negotiating manuscript environmental insurance policies, and recently resolved a multi-million dollar environmental insurance claim through mediation with the carrier.

During the past several years, Christine has worked on many aspects of brownfield redevelopment of properties under the New York State Brownfields Cleanup Program, Superfund sites (CERCLA and its state counterpart) and petroleum spill sites subject to the New York Navigation Law. She has also counseled many clients on compliance with New York City E zoning designation requirements with respect to hazardous materials, air quality and noise attenuation. In addition to counseling clients throughout brownfield redevelopment (due diligence investigation, structuring and negotiating the property sale transaction, environmental consulting and remediation service procurement and oversight, and environmental insurance and regulatory compliance), Christine has worked with corporate and financial institution clients on environmental aspects of mergers and acquisitions involving many domestic and international properties.

Early in her career, Christine worked with the Natural Heritage Institute on San Francisco Bay-Delta and Central Valley water quality-quantity interface issues and international environmental refugee issues. She also counseled NRG Energy on environmental aspects of its acquisition of privatized former East German coal mining and power generation assets from Germany (Treuhandanstalt). Before joining Sive, Paget & Riesel, Christine was a member of the Environmental Practice Group of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in Hartford, CT.

Brownfields Redevelopment

Georgetown Company

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2007

Change SPR represented the Georgetown Company, the developer of IAC Corporation's new corporate headquarters building -- the first building in New York designed by Frank Gehry -- which was built on a portion of the former Con Edison 18th Street Gas Works. The firm's representation on this project included negotiating an allocation of responsibility among all stake-holders for the environmental remediation of residual contamination from decades of manufactured gas production and assorted waterfront industrial uses. SPR negotiated a Voluntary Cleanup Agreement with the State of New York, and subsequently assisted Georgetown in becoming one of the first Volunteers to participate in and receive a Certificate of Completion of the then newly enacted Brownfield Cleanup Program. SPR also negotiated a transfer of risk with the contractor conducting the site cleanup, backed by environmental insurance.
Litigation

Queens West Development Corporation

Location: Long Island City, NY | Date: 2014

SPR represents Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC), a subsidiary of New York State's Empire State Development (ESD), in connection with New York's largest mixed use public-private development. During the early planning stages of this major initiative to redevelop a 74-acre area of the Long Island City waterfront, the firm provided environmental and land use counsel to the Urban Development Corporation (now d/b/a ESD) in connection with development of the General Project Plan and the environmental impact statement (EIS) process. It subsequently represented ESD in successfully defeating litigation challenging the adequacy of the EIS. The firm has handled all waterfront permitting issues for the development of parks and the waterfront esplanade, which involved obtaining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies.

The firm represented QWDC over CERCLA action for response costs and settled. The firm assists in connection with all aspects of remediation of legacy contamination from the area's long and varied industrial uses, including remedies under auspices of either the State's Voluntary Cleanup Program or the Brownfield Cleanup Program, recently representing QWDC in a case over response costs. The litigation recently settled.
Development And Land Use

River East Project

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2006

The firm represents the developer of the River East project, a 1.2-million-square-foot residential and commercial project in Long Island City. SPR helped to secure the necessary tidal wetlands permits, contaminated soil remediation plan and other regulatory approvals that authorize the construction of two planned 30-story glass towers, four 8-story buildings and a waterfront public park that local residents say will greatly enhance their community.
Environmental Impact Review/Permitting

East River Realty – First Avenue Project

Location: New York, NY | Date: 2013

SPR represents East River Realty Co., LLC, as lead environmental counsel associated with the redevelopment of four parcels of property located along the First Avenue on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, which were the former location of Consolidated Edison's Waterside Generating Station. East River Realty intends to construct a significant, high-rise development on the site. As counsel to the project, SPR prepared the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required for the sale of the property from Consolidated Edison, and is presently steering the proposed development through the New York City urban land use review procedure and the concomitant EIS process for the development plan. Moreover, SPR has overseen the challenging clean-up of the major former industrial site, including obtaining a Brownfield designation for the site.

“Commercial Real Estate Financing: Environmental Law for Lenders and their Lawyers”

For: Practicing Law Institute

April 3, 2019

“Complex Cases Management Strategy & Financing Mechanisms – The U.S. Experience”

For: Seminário Ekos Brasil, SustRem Conference 2018, São Paulo, Brazil

October 30, 2018

“Remediation of Emerging Contaminants: New York Regulatory Update”

For: Montclair State University, Center for Professional Education Services

November 30, 2018

“Waterfront Redevelopment and Resilience: Natural Resources, Regulatory Changes, and Future Physical Climate Risks” “

For: New York State Bar Association Environment and Energy Law Section

January 30, 2015

“Management of Urban Soils at Construction Sites”

For: New York City Department of Transportation

April 10, 2012

“New York and Federal Site Contamination Law,” Continuing education course for professional engineers and surveyors

For: HalfMoon Education, Inc.

December 14, 2011

“Institutional Brownfields Incentives”

For: Environmental Law Institute

September 18, 2011

“Lecturer in Law”

For: Columbia Law School

1994-2011

University of California, Hastings College of Law , J.D., 1991

University of Wisconsin – Madison, Environmental Studies Certificate, 1984

University of Wisconsin – Madison, B.A., 1983, With honors

New York

California

Connecticut

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

New York State Bar Association, Environment and Energy Law Section, Diversity Committee Co-Chair